PNRI Director Dr. Carlo Arcilla (middle) is joined by DOST officials as he receives the certificate of recognition on behalf of PNRI for once again having the highest number of international publications among DOST agencies at the 2022 DOST Intellectual Property Awards on November 23 as part of this year’s National Science and Technology Week celebration at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.
At the 2022 NSTW Health Cluster, PNRI researchers explain and demonstrate the various medical applications of nuclear and radiation technologies to visitors from various sectors.
PNRI Features Medical Tech at 2022 NSTW
Coming back strong and timely in the face of continued challenges to the health and well-being of Filipinos, the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) joined its fellow agencies in the celebration of the 2022 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) at the World Trade Center from November 23-27, featuring the latest nuclear and radiation applications in the field of health and medicine.
Among these technologies showcased under the Health Cluster exhibits are the Technetium-99m generator for accurate imaging crucial in diagnosing various diseases, radiation-processed hemostats to reduce or stop the bleeding in medical and emergency settings, and carboxymethyl hyaluronic acid-based hydrogels with potential use in the production of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other medicines.
Apart from presenting these latest advances to members of the media during the press conference, PNRI Director Dr. Carlo Arcilla also had the honor of receiving the award on behalf of the Institute, which for the fifth straight year has once again garnered the highest number of awardees at the 2022 DOST International Publication Awards on November 23. With 63 publications in internationally-recognized journals, PNRI’s prolific scientists and researchers were recognized for their respective authorships during the event.
PNRI experts also hosted an online forum entitled Safe Ba Tayo?: Effective Radiation Protection and Radioactive Waste Management on November 25 on Zoom and Facebook Live.
Celebrated every fourth week of November since 2020, the 2022 NSTW is the first such celebration since the COVID-19 pandemic that the event was held in a physical setting opened to the general public.
With the theme Agham at Teknolohiya: Kabalikat sa Maunlad at Matatag na Kinabukasan, this year’s celebration looks forward to the solutions brought by innovative technologies, products and services while also being inclusive to the pressing needs of various sectors and stakeholders, working hand-in-hand for national development through science and technology.
Atomic Energy Week opens Dec 5
The Atomic Energy Week (AEW) which highlights nuclear science and technology innovations and initiatives over the decades will open on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. This year marks the 50th AEW celebration, a testament to the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute’s (DOST-PNRI) commitment in sharing to the public the gains and developments in the country’s nuclear S&T sector.
The line-up of speakers in the opening ceremony includes DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr, Ambassador of Denmark to the Philippines and Palau H.E. Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin, Department of Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla, DOST Undersecretary for R&D Leah J. Buendia, and Senator Robinhood C. Padilla.
The event will run December 5-9 with the theme “Agham at Teknolohiyang Pang-Nukleyar: Kabalikat sa Maunlad at Matatag na Kinabukasan.”
Among the opening day events are a flag-raising ceremony, wreath-laying at the monument of Dr. Gen. Florencio A. Medina, thanksgiving mass, opening program, launch of technical exhibits, and press conference.
Dr. Medina, known as the Philippine Father of Atomic Energy, is the first commissioner of the then Philippine Atomic Energy Commission, forerunner of today's PNRI.
Day 2 (Dec. 6) will open the Philippine Nuclear Research and Development Conference (PNRDC) on hybrid mode which will feature local and international research on nuclear S&T and related fields. These include nuclear radiation and technology applications in health and environment; radiation protection, nuclear safety, security, and safeguards; nuclear and radiation technology applications in industry and agriculture; and nuclear engineering, technology, and policies. PNRDC will run on Dec. 6 and 8.
Day 3 (Dec. 7) will feature the AEW Special Events, such as Mobile Photography,
Poster Making, and NucleART 4.0 contests participated in by students in both high school and college levels.
The Closing Ceremonies on Dec. 9 will be the awarding of all AEW contests winners, PNRDC awards, AEW special awards, and the PNRI awards for academic achievement, loyalty/service, and PRAISE.
Running throughout the five-day event are the guided tours to the technical exhibits. The tours are pre-registered as drop-in guests are still not allowed for safety reasons. The technical exhibits, meanwhile, are designed to give guests a view of PNRI projects and programs. With titles such as “Let’s Play! Rock and Role,” “Basura Yarn? The Hows of Radioactive Waste Management,” “Safe Ka Ba? I-CPR Kita,” “Sa Pagkain, Sa Pag-inom, Sa Paghinga, May Quality”, and others, the exhibits intend to show the relevance of nuclear S&T to the lives of the Filipinos.
The official banner of the AEW 2022
Atomic Energy Week @50 ushers golden opportunities in Nuclear S&T
Fifty years of making known to the public the beneficial applications of nuclear science and technology has brought the Atomic Energy Week (AEW) celebration into a whole new level. This time, it is ready to give a glimpse to 50 years henceforth through its current programs and projects to be showcased during the celebration.
To be held December 5-9, the AEW celebration led by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) has the theme “Agham at Teknolohiyang Pang-Nukleyar: Kabalikat sa Maunlad at Matatag na Kinabukasan.”
Among the event features are the wreath-laying on Dr. Gen. Florencio A. Medina monument, the Philippine Nuclear Research and Development Conference (PNRDC) which will be on hybrid mode, and several contests such as Mobile Photography, Poster Making, and NucleArt 4.0
Dr. Medina, known as the Philippine Father of Atomic Energy, is the first commissioner of the then Philippine Atomic Energy Commission, forerunner of today's PNRI. Every AEW celebration starts with wreath-laying at his statue in the presence of his family members to give honor and respect to his contributions to nuclear science and technology in the country.
The PNRDC, meanwhile, will feature research abstracts on nuclear S&T and related fields on Dec. 6 and 8. The live conference will be hybrid as researchers from all over the globe will present their recent studies virtually while the organizer-hosts will hold the event face-to-face at PNRI.
Other guests in the AEW are Filipino scientists, professionals, and policy makers who will either present or join discussions on the latest nuclear and radiation-related innovations as well as the preparations for the impending foray of the country into a nuclear power programme.
Overall, the event will highlight current initiatives that will prepare the country for more relevant uses of nuclear S&T in the areas of health and medicine, food, environment, and energy security in the next 50 years.
The annual AEW celebration, as mandated under Presidential Proclamation No. 1211 in 1973, aims to generate awareness of the Filipino people on the beneficial uses of nuclear science and technology.
Mr. Fernando Aurigue, Scientist I of the DOST has been doing mutation breeding for many decades. In this photo, he shows one of the propagated mutant “calachuchi” varieties.
New mutants bloom at PH nuclear agency
DOST-PNRI developed two new varieties of Plumeria through mutation breeding. The varieties are now registered with the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC), Bureau of Plant Industry and at the Mutant Variety Database of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
More popularly known as “frangipani” or temple flower in English and “calachuchi” in Filipino, Plumeria rubra in the scientific world has new babies at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). With their enhanced looks and scent, the new blooms will surely capture the hearts of flower lovers, especially the “calachuchi” fans.
Meet “Illuminance” and “Radiance,” both borne using the nuclear technique called mutation breeding. That they were bred through irradiation technology is what makes them different from the usual neighborhood “calachuchi.”
Most “calachuchis” grown today for planting onsite start as stem cuttings. Illuminance and Radiance started as seeds. But unlike hybrids, they took on a different path - they were exposed to a certain dose of gamma rays before germination to produce novel traits.
The traits of both blooms were not planned nor designed. They were the results of the effects of radiation applied to the planting material. Radiation altered or modified the plant’s’ genetic make-up which resulted in a new trait that can be preserved through vegetative propagation of the plant or inherited by its offsprings.
To ensure that the desirable traits are stable and can be passed on to the next vegetative generations, each generation was evaluated on the evident changes.
“We observed exactly the same mutated characteristics with each vegetative generation advancement for six generations,” explained Mr. Fernando B. Aurigue, Scientist I and lead of the Ornamental Plant Mutation Breeding project. “For “calachuchi,” six vegetative generation advancements took three to six years.”
Improved desirable traits
“Illuminance” and “Radiance” have improved traits in growth habit, flower color, and scent.
The original and non-irradiated control Plumeria rubra has white blooms with yellow center. They also bear the scent that is associated with deaths and funerals that is most prominent at night until morning.
But not for these new babies. As an improved version, the flowers of Illuminance look very elegant and feminine. The white petals are lined with a purple-pink swatch that vanishes into the middle of the flower with a yellow center.
Meanwhile, Radiance glows with its summery look-- pure white petals with a radiant yellow center.
Both have a delectably sweet scent. The trees are compact in growth habit and bloom almost all year round with peak of flowering during the dry months.
Long, careful study
But a big load of patience is required in mutation breeding. Greater effort was most needed for generation advancement and stability testing parts of the study.
“The experiment actually started in 2009,” revealed Sir Nanding, as he is fondly called at PNRI. “We tried different doses of gamma rays and determined the best one.”
“At 30 Gray, traits are already evident. At higher doses, the seedlings died or the seeds did not germinate at all,” he said.
Gray is a unit of radiation dose. A dose of 1 Gy is equivalent to a unit of energy or joule deposited in a kilogram of a substance (or matter). For example, a chest X-ray comprises 20 microGrays (µGy), while eating a banana which naturally contains potassium-40 gives 0.1 µGy.
The right radiation dose applied in the right conditions produced the beautiful mutants whose traits consistently came through across at least six vegetative generations.
“Plumeria ‘Illuminance’ (NSIC 2021 Or 101) and P. ‘Radiance’ (NSIC 2021 Or 102) are now registered with the IAEA Mutant Variety Database with ID numbers 4943 and 4944, respectively,” informed Sir Nanding.
He likewise acknowledges the help of Mr. Luis Mauricio Alfonzo-Godoy of IAEA for facilitating the processing of the Mutant Variety Registration Forms.